Frequently Asked Questions
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FAQ's About Student Bus Transportation

FAQ's About Student Bus Transportation

Who Operates Buses for Minneapolis Public Schools?

Minneapolis Public Schools operates over 450 routes each day. Approximately 150 routes are self-performed by MPS and the remaining 300 by our subcontractors.

MPS Transportation determines which routes will be self-performed and which routes are assigned to each contractor. Contractor assignments are typically based on past performance, as well as the location of their terminals (bus garages) in proximity to available routes and the number of routes we collaboratively determine they can perform.

The contract with our partners was competitively bid and awarded in July 2018. The contract is a two-year contract with two one-year renewal options. Click here for a list of contract enhancements that were included in this most recent contract.

I see many different bus companies on the streets of Minneapolis. Are all those bus companies your contractors?

There are well over 20 different bus companies that operate within the City of Minneapolis. MPS uses some – but not all – of these companies to fill routes. It’s important to remember that a contractor may provide services to charter, suburban and private schools in addition to providing services to MPS.

Currently, MPS uses the following companies to provide transportation services to families:

  • Minneapolis & Suburban Bus Company
  • Septran
  • Lorenz Bus Service
  • Metropolitan Transportation Network (MTN)
  • Northstar Bus Lines

If you ever have a concern or issue with one of these companies we encourage you to reach out to us to help resolve the issue. You can call Transportation at 612-668-2300 or send an email to Transportation @mpls.k12.mn.us.

Do MPS Subcontractors Have Enough Drivers?

In addition to our own staffing vacancies, our subcontractors also are experiencing driver shortages due to an industry-wide shortage of bus drivers. The subcontractors are privately owned companies that may have a greater ability to respond to these market pressures through competitive wages and bonus packages.

Do MPS Bus Drivers Have Union Representation?

Minneapolis bus drivers are represented by the Minnesota Teamsters Public and Law Enforcement Union. Routes performed by MPS are bid by seniority twice per year; once in August and once in January. Unstaffed routes are offered to our substitute driver pool first with the lowest senior employee required to accept the assignment. This process is contractual in our bargaining unit agreement with the Teamsters.

Am I Qualified to be a Bus Driver?

As a Driver, you’ll do a lot more than just sit behind the wheel. Your job involves not only transportation safety, but also child care, customer communications, and sometimes even counseling or parenting. All Driver candidates must have less than two moving violations in the 24 months prior to hire AND successfully completed a 40-hour, pre-hire training course as offered by the Minneapolis Professional Drivers' Academy, which includes over-the-road and classroom instruction. Bus Drivers must demonstrate the ability to:

  • Manage students
  • Effectively and clearly communicate in a positive manner with students, school staff, parents and fellow employees
  • Safely operate the school bus to which they are assigned
  • Read and understand written and oral communications
  • Read road maps accurately
  • Lift 50 pounds

All candidates are subject to pre-employment background checks including employment history, state accident records, motor vehicle records and criminal records. Candidates offered a position will be required to pass a pre-placement medical examination approved by Minneapolis Public Schools prior to hire. Finally, appointment to the position of School Bus Driver will be contingent upon passing a drug screening test and the criminal record inquiry/examination.

Why does my student’s pick-up time or location change once it’s set?

Transportation continually reviews the on time performance of our buses and bus stop locations and adjusts routing to improve operations, as well as adding new students as they enroll. This may cause pick-up times to change. As new stops or students are added, Transportation Services notifies the school Transportation Coordinator, who communicates the change with the family.

How Can Families Help Reduce Delays?

Some delays are caused simply because buses have to wait for students at their stops. Please have your children ready and watching for the bus, at the assigned bus stop, five minutes before the scheduled pick-up time. Drivers are allowed a 10-minute grace period before the bus is considered late to give reasonable allowance for unforeseen traffic or other issues along the route. Since most buses for schools with later start times or earlier end times are servicing other schools before or after, when they are late for their earlier runs, the issue is compounded by making them late at their later runs.

If your child has not ridden the bus for more than 10 days, they may be removed from the route. Please call Dispatch at 612-668-2300 to restart the bus service. Route changes are made every three days, so you may experience a delay if the request is made within the route change window.

We ask that you help your child recognize that misconduct can cause serious injury to themselves or other passengers. Disturbances also impact the driver's ability to perform the bus route, causing unnecessary delay. Please review the Bus Safety Rules with your child.

Can I set up Transportation for my child to/from a different location than my home?

Students have the opportunity to have two (2) assigned school bus stops; one (1) primary stop and a second stop defined as an alternative stop. Students can receive transportation to a daycare address if it is within the school’s attendance area and not in the walk zone. Please review the complete District Busing Guidelines for additional information.

Parents can submit a request with their school's Transportation Coordinator to change a student's pick up or drop off location. 

What Has MPS Transportation Services Done to Reduce Delays?

MPS Transportation Services worked through bell time changes at 20 schools for the 2018-19 school year. We have seen improvements in on time arrivals as a result of building in more time between start time ‘tiers’. Previously there were 29 different start times across the district. Please see the information about bell time changes and the process we followed

Other route enhancement to improve timing include: adding time to route for bus unloading at school and afternoon stops; reducing travel speeds on some surface routes to provide a more realistic trip time during rush hour congestion; re-routing runs to avoid needing to cross I35W because of road construction or bridge closure; avoiding using I35W for bus routes in the southern area of the district due to ongoing road construction project; matching drivers to same morning and afternoon runs for our middle schools - this helps with establishing positive relationships between drivers and students; adding time to the route for loading at stops with a large group of students scheduled at that stop.

Transportation is continually looking to optimize routes to reduce delays and ride times for students. The work the district has done to date on implementing Synovia Bus Tracker in support of Here Comes The Bus has provided some ‘back of the house’ data to improve services.

Why Can't I get Through to Transportation Dispatch?

We recognize that call hold times at Transportation Dispatch are sometimes very long. We know this is difficult, but please know that our children’s safety is our first priority. In fact, the reason hold times are so long is because – during this driver shortage – members of our office staff are out driving buses to make sure our students get where they’re going – instead of answering phones! We’re working hard to hire more drivers, get them trained and on the road. When we do, phone hold times will likely be reduced.